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THE PYRAMID                             37
have the doubtful pleasure of reading thereon, a painted injunction in English, French and Arabic, to wash our faces with a soap whose renown is to-day hardly less than that of the Pyramids themselves!
These ancient time-defying monuments excite the interest of the learned and attract the curiosity of the layman, partly because they emerge out of the abyss of the centuries and partly because their immense size stupefies even a generation which has become familiar with massive structures. When we first glimpse the Pyramids, we seem to arrive at a strange, ancient epoch whose age is fitly expressed in the strangeness of these unfamiliar outlines; we are struck with amazement when we consider how the hands of primitive men could have raised such monstrous artificial mountains on a desert plateau to rival the creations of Nature herself.
When the Grecian conquerors first penetrated Egypt and sighted these incredible buildings, lifting their pointed peaks to the desert sky, they stared silently and caught their breath: and when the Grecian sages of Alexander's time drew up their list of the seven wonders of the world, they placed the Pyramids at its head. To-day, these alone are left standing out of the seven.
But age and size, impressive though they are, do not constitute the sole recommendation to such an honour. There are both well and little known facts about the first and greatest of the Pyramids which may cause us to wonder no less than the Greeks.
When the scientists and experts whom Napoleon took with him on his invasion of Egypt were commissioned to make a survey of the country, they fixed the Great Pyramid as the central meridian from which they would mark out the longitudes, After they had mapped out Lower Egypt, they were surprised at the apparent coincidence of this meridian exactly cutting the Delta region, formed by the mouth of the Nile and practically constituting the whole of Lower Egypt, into two equal portions. They were still more surprised when they found that two diagonal lines drawn from the Pyramid at right-angles to each other would completely endose the entire Delta area. And they were profoundly astonished when reflection revealed to them that the Great Pyramid's position was not only suitable as a central meridian for Egypt, but also for the entire globe, for the Great Pyramid stands exactly on the middle dividing line of the world map!